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.He never told me.''Steerforth never told you.'The wretched man shied away from the name as though it would shrivel his tongue.'What did Steerforth tell you?''It's such a long time ago–I don't remember.''You're in trouble, Morrison.We know perfectly well that you haven't forgotten.You read about the Dakota in the papers a few days ago.You haven't forgotten.'Morrison turned his head from side to side as though his collar was too tight.'I think he said it was–incredible.But he wouldn't say what it was.He just said it was worth the risk.He said it was priceless.'The words tumbled out now as though Morrison couldn't get rid of them fast enough.'And it was in the boxes.'Morrison nodded.'I suppose so.''How many boxes? Seven?''I think so.''Were they heavy?''I don't know.He–Steerforth–and Tierney carried them aboard.I just kept a look-out.'That was all he was worth.Just a look-out man.The shop door-bell rang.Audley turned to find an entire family trooping in, breaking the spell utterly, destroying the illusion.Morrison sighed with relief.'What time do you close, Mr Morrison?''Five-thirty.''We'll be back at 5.25.We can take our time then.I know you can remember a great deal more if you try.'He turned to go, but the man's courage had risen in the presence of others.'I didn't catch your name, sir.'Audley toyed with the idea of maintaining the element of uncertainty.But it would be embarrassing if Morrison then did the sensible thing and called the police.In any case, they had him now, and their official status would probably strengthen their hand rather than weaken it.He held his identification open for Morrison to see, just above the spotty face of the latest customer.'Until 5.25, then, Mr Morrison.Don't go away.'Outside the crowds seemed even thicker and more determined.The two small boys were still glued to the window, and one of them instantly buttonholed Roskill.'Mister.Wot's that one?'Roskill peered into the window again.'Savoia-Marchetti SM 79,' he said shortly.'Italian torpedo bomber.' Then he turned to Audley.'There's a tea shop over the road.We can wait there.'Audley nodded morosely.He had told Faith Jones he would be home by three, then by six.Now it would be more like seven.His quiet Saturday routine was totally dislocated.And Sunday would be equally ruined, since it was now clearly imperative to grill Tierney and the others as quickly as possible.Roskill was a man who put his stomach first, an old campaigner: he consumed a schoolboy's tea with relish before attempting to make serious conversation, while Audley toyed with a sickly cake.Finally he dusted off the crumbs, carefully wiped his fingers and grinned at Audley.'That was bad luck, just when you'd got him on toast.But I've got a tape of it in case he gets forgetful'–he patted his coat pocket–'or stubborn.Do you think he knows what it was?'Audley shrugged.It was quite possible that Steerforth had kept the nature of the cargo to himself, or shared the secret only with Tierney.'It isn't vital yet, anyway, Hugh.What we need is a line on the hiding place.''Always supposing it's still there.''It's there.' He had to keep on believing in that.'But they won't have the answer.''They won't.But remember, they've never really thought of looking for it.If they're like Jones they'll have thought that Steerforth was alive, which meant there was no point in looking.''How are they going to give us a line on the stuff then?''It's the time factor, Hugh–they can narrow down the time factor for us.Remember the breakdown of Steerforth's movements in the file?''You mean between the flight in on Tuesday and the flight back to Berlin on Friday?'Audley nodded.'That's the crucial period, yes.They brought the boxes in on Tuesday evening.They got them off the plane somehow–we want to know how and where.There must have been a temporary hiding place then.''Steerforth was duty officer from 08.30 on Wednesday to the same time on Thursday, wasn't he?''Right.And he went to London all day Thursday with the navigator and Wojek the Pole.So he had just Tuesday and Thursday nights to shift the boxes, which didn't give him much scope, I'm hoping.''And you really think we stand a chance of tracking the stuff down?''Depends on how much we can make people remember, Hugh.And whether we're lucky–as he was.'Roskill cocked an eyebrow.'Steerforth was lucky?''If I've got it worked out right he had to have one real piece of luck.Look at it this way: he takes over a cargo in Berlin to deliver to that Belgian Butler's looking for at the moment.He takes a look at it and decides to keep it for himself.'Now he's got two problems.First he's got to double-cross his employers so they won't come chasing him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]